Switching careers in the middle of COVID-19: This is what I have learned.
Switching careers in the middle of a global pandemic wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I glued the words “change” on my vision board last year. Looking back, I had a romanticized idea of how the next chapter of my life would begin. I imagined moving into the perfect Richmond apartment, decking out my cubicle in unnecessary decor, and, most importantly, engaging in human interaction. Instead, I began working for Hodges remotely, turned my living room into my workspace, and hung out with the same two people for three months straight. Long story short, life got weird.
If you, like me, have also found yourself in this nerve-wracking scenario, know that you are not alone. Making the big decision to change careers can be scary, even in the most ideal of circumstances. Pile on a pandemic, reminding people that Black Lives Matter and remembering to drink enough water, things start to accumulate. At times, navigating this transition has felt daunting, but like any challenge, I have simultaneously learned a great deal about myself and the world around me.
Here are four quick takeaways about switching careers from my last three months.
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable
With unprecedented times come unprecedented emotions. Honoring what feelings arise, no matter what they look like, has allowed me to transition into this new chapter of my life with ease and positivity. Susan David, a renowned psychologist and expert on emotions, found that a third of people either judged themselves for having “bad” emotions such as sadness and anger or pushed these feelings aside rather than confronting them. The more I’ve allowed myself to sit with the uncomfortable aspects of my day, the more I’ve viewed my mistakes as growth. I remind myself that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and that collectively, we are all experiencing mass discomfort. The key is to welcome these feelings with curiosity rather than fear.
There’s power in perspective
Another lesson I’ve learned is the importance of perspective. Instead of mulling over the ways COVID-19 has inconvenienced my life, I’ve begun counting the ways I’ve been blessed in the midst of it. Working remotely is a privilege in itself. As millions of people are facing economic hardship, I feel fortunate to have a job that allows me to continue working without risking my health like so many of our essential workers on the front lines. I’ve had the space to grasp my new responsibilities, clients’ needs and daily account work in a familiar environment, while also tending to my mental health. By taking a difficult situation and meditating on the positives, I’ve begun to feel less anxious about my circumstance and remain grounded and connected despite the curveballs thrown my way.
Adaptability as a superpower
The only certainty in life is uncertainty. The key is to remain flexible, move with the currents and accept that things may not go exactly as you planned. Adaptability looks different for everyone. For some, it means getting excited to bond with a coworker via Zoom instead of walking across the street for a cup of coffee. For others, it’s finding a way to peacefully coexist with the people you’ve found yourself quarantined with. Adaptability naturally comes with sacrifice. Still, as you learn to become more comfortable with the unpredictable nature of life, you can begin to welcome the fluidity it brings along the way.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Lastly, the most important lesson I have learned throughout this process is the importance of leaning on your team for support. At Hodges, I’m lucky to call an incredibly capable, talented and kind group of humans my coworkers. Starting a new job in a virtual world requires you to step outside of your comfort zone and ask for help when you need it. Unlike in an office setting where everyone is in one place, working remotely can feel isolating if you don’t prioritize social interaction. Setting up Zoom check-in calls with your coworkers is a great way to bond virtually and make sure you don’t fall behind. Whether it’s a quick Teams chat or a much-needed rant in slack, your coworkers are a resource, and it’s up to you to use them.